Saturday, March 7, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] Fwd: ARTISTS AS INVENTORS ON YASMIN --- Invention in Art vs Invention in Science


Thanks for refocusing the discussion on one of the initial questions:

How is an art-related invention different from an invention that is not
tied to the conventions of art?

Which was coupled to:

How is an art-related invention different from invention in other fields?

As a scientist, who has spent his career helping invent new instruments to
astronomical discoveries I would like to substitute the word science for
the word
art in the questions:


How is a science-related invention different from an invention that is not
tied to the conventions of science ?


How is a science-related invention different from invention in other fields?

Here are some observations:

a) There are some scientific discoveries that cannot be made until a
particular technological invention has been made.

For instance the discovery of planets around other stars was not made until
when spectrometers with sufficient stability and resolution were invented (
here at the observatoire de haute provence which is part of my observatory).

Astronomers thought that it was very likely that all stars had planets, and
this motivated inventions that would allow them to be detected.

Is the same contingency between invention and certain forms/works of art at
work. I
think yes; photography, film and digital media all enabled powerful new
artforms and art
works that just could be done before their invention.

And indeed the development of the technical inventions for photography, film
digital immedia involved inventors with both art and science backgrounds (as
as inventors with purely commercial motivations). The invention of
holography has involved both science and art motivations.

b) I notice that I have slipped in a clear distinction between "discovery"
and "invention".

Scientists make discoveries. I am a 'positivist". I believe that there is a
world that exists independent of our human culture and perceptions.
Scientists go about discovering the nature of a world that exists
independent of their work.

Technologists make "inventions". Even though as you point out the universe
of possible inventions is "latent" and a particular invention is "enabled, I
think inventions are indeed purely human inventions and totally tied to the
nature of humans and their perceptual systems. Different kinds of species
would make different kinds of inventions. For instance humans have invented
all kids of foods and kinds of cooking= these artistic inventions would make
no sense to beings that didnt have a sense of taste. Similarly visual art
would make no sense for being with no vision. ( at the same time clearly you
cant invent a technology that is not consistent with the way that the world
works independent of human beings)

You ask the connected question:

Can the *artist as inventor* be evoked in terms of a *radical novelty*, the
*radically new*?
Is there to be found a *complete novelty* in relation to the technical and
the social?

I think an area of the radically new is the artists that ask whether there
are other
ways to connect to our nervous system other than using our existing senses.
Rosenboom for instance has worked for 30 years on various ways of creating
to the brain and as a composer to develop ways for the brain to interact
with music making systems other than through the fingers or breath !! Roy
Ascott and his questions and explorations about art and consciousness
explore chemical stimulation as a source of perception ( his vegetal

The topic consciousness I think is a good area where the relationship of
scientists to invention and artists to invention is clearly very different.
The artist seeks to invent new technologies of consciousness that affect
human perception, scientists seek new technologies of consciousness that
help understand how consciousness emerges in a complex neurobiological
system. The kinds of inventions that serve these two different purposes I
suspect are not the same kind.

Are there other scientists and engineers on YASMIN who can help develop the
question of how invention plays a different role in art and in science ?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: derek hales <>

artists tools for other artists – as well as making art with these tools
themselves – it is difficult, perhaps even meaningless to separate out the
processes involved in the invention of the *tools* here from the process of
art making –

I know that two is already too many questions but to start by answering
these with a third: Is it too simplistic of me to say that sometimes art can
operate inside something else. Can we say this with respect to invention,
within the system of invention, its technical instruments of policy and

I nvention is in some unintended or bespoke
utility. However
I am interested in the issues of motivation or the motives and forces at
work here - artists as inventors do not *need* to start with *utility* as
the basis for their relation with invention (neither do designers for that
matter but we can maybe come back to this later).

'Since potentially everything exists, creating is
discovering and making visible or manifest what is latent'.

What then is the intention of the artist who chooses to operate
as an inventor or lets say to act within the system of invention? Is the
sense of the accidental in this process of discovery perhaps closer to the
foundation of the invention creating processes of art making, than that
found in other inventive fields or domains?


Derek Hales
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